This is my latest article for coast2coast mazagine out on the 15 but you can read it first here.
Who hasn’t dreamt of building their own dream house and what better place to do it
than in sunny Spain.
Building my dream house in Spain was a dream of mine for many years and I am sure
other Expats have the same dream but what’s it really like and how easy is it?
This is my 19th year living in Spain and I have almost finished single headedly building
my dream house here in Almeria.
In this article I will share my 3 year adventure and how it was for me along with some
valuable tips and advice for others thinking of starting their dream build.
First some background on me.
As a carpenter and builder in the uk I moved to Almeria in Spain and set up my own
business renovating properties here and some building works. Employing a few jobers
along the way over the first ten years here and then finally working on my own.
I have bought and sold several properties here in this time and while looking for a new
house for my Spanish wife and I we decided that as we couldn’t find what we wanted
we would buy a plot of land and built exactly what we needed.
My plot was in a gated community with private security and in a great area near
Almeria Airport. 800sm plot with permission to build 235 sm 4 bedroom house with
gardens and 9m x 4m pool. Also a 200 sm underground garage that has a gym and
workshops for me and parking for a car and motorbike.
The house I designed on sketchup, a free programme online and this I presented to an
architect who then refined my designs for presentation to planning office.
We contracted a company to dig out the ground, lay footings and build the concrete
pillars and floors. After that my wife and I did almost everything, really everything, all
12500 bricks, blocks, all cement floors and grounds. The internal works we did right
down to laying the pipes for plumbing, cables for electrics. We paid an electrician and
plumber to connect these services once I had installed them. As they have the correct
papers to do so.
A lot of hard work is an understatement and we did work seven days a week, 10 hours
every day for 2 years and yes it was hard but we saved so much money and are so
happy with what we now have. From laying concreate footings and building walls and
plaster boarding to tiling we did it all. Even installing all the windows and doors
external and internal and the main front door I made and jointed myself in the
evenings. On my blog you can see videos of us working on the house day and night.
We are now 59 years young and thinking back it was probably a crazy thing to start at
our age but we are both fit and healthy and think life is an adventure and this was truly
My neighbour started his build on the same size plot of land the same size 4 bedroom
build. He paid a company to do everything, with around 5 or 6 guys working all day
every day for 18 months. For this he paid a lot on labour costs but got his house
finished in that time. Our house is finished now, all but laying the artificial grass and
we have all the correct papers but I will need time to finish off inside as I want to make
all the furniture myself.
Was it worth it?
The last few months we have had many of our friends round to swim in our pool and
enjoy our new home, its been amazing. BBQs around the pool and several party
Stress? Hell yes loads but everything is solution able if you look hard enough, planning
is key to saving time money and stress. Paper work and licences are really In the hands
of the gods, even if you do everything correctly it still is stress and takes way longer
than you think.
The Costs. On my blog “link Here” I go into detail of all my costs and have videos
showing each step of the build.
We have spent around 370k and I guess around 10 k more over the next year but the
house was valued by the bank at 795k a few months ago and my neighbour’s house is
valued at 850k but he has completely finished it including all the gardens. We still have
the garden to finish off and the pool bar to build.
Would I do it again? No way, this is it for life now and we really have all we need here
and are very happy with the house.
Davids top tips.
Research is always key and several trips to the planning office to ask about plots and
land and what you can and can’t build is essential and free if you Speak Spanish and
well worth doing. The paperwork was endless and normally in triplicate and takes
weeks or months for almost everything, with endless visits and checks from local
authorities along the way.
The taxes were more than we were first told and did eat into our budget, labour cost
for the electrician and plumber were high but you need good registered trade s for
these services so worth paying top dollar to get it right first time.
The plot we bought was in a better area than the first 2 plots we saw and more
expensive but that is what helps the value of the finished house but also increases the
Different areas have very different rules for what you can and can’t build so very
important to know before you buy that land. We were not allowed to build arches on
our porch so that had to be changed from my designs and not allowed to paint the
railings black but dark grey was ok. Crazy little things like that you need to know
If its your dream to build in Spain then go for it but get all the facts and do plenty of
See Davids build photos and costs here.. See here.